Archive for October, 2011

10/31/2011

The Mark of Real Friendship

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love I can: all of them make me laugh.” – W.H. Auden 1907-73

10/30/2011

Sex Ed Abstinence

Sex education has always been a touchy subject among many of the key stakeholders in any community – in particular parents, religious and elected officials. In recent weeks, the Mayor of NYC has been pushing a safer based sex ed curriculum called “Reducing the Risk” for middle and high school students. Many parents and other community stakeholders have the opinion that such a curriculum should not be offered. These folks are mobilizing to vocalize their opposition and want more than just the “opt out” form that is provided by the school whenever a sex ed curriculum is being taught in a “health related” class. There are even elected officials pushing the abstinence only option as a viable alternative:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/reps-bob-turner-michael-grimm-join-nyc-parents-choice-lobby-abstience-sex-ed-article-1.963876.

I have always found interesting as to why parents and religious officials choose to adhere to the saving grace of an abstinence only approach. Stats have proven that young people are still apt to have sex, especially in their teen years. In working on the 9-5, I see youth struggle on a constant basis about the decision to have sex. It’s often not so much about the mechanics of the missionary, doggy style or how to use a polyurethane condom correctly, but it’s more so about the social and emotional implications of sexual activity.

The teen years are about starting the process of forming independence and self-identity in earnest. One of the key decisions a young person youth has to make is when to have sex. My work has shown me that young people are just as capable when given the correct opportunity in the form of education and support as many adults when it comes to responsible sexual behavior.

Even though there is an easier access to information than ever before, there still persist some of the same myths that dogged our parents when they were growing up. My soapbox has me thinking that in order for our young people to be given a safe space to learn about what sex really means – as it is such a big part of being an adult – they need access to the right information. Stats have shown that young people are starting sexual activity at an earlier age, and the consequences of STDs and unintended pregnancy are still prevalent but quite preventable.

We clearly live in a seemingly over stimulated and hypersexualized society. It is curious to me how some parents can gripe about sex ed being taught in schools but don’t gripe as much about all the sex being used to sell from car rims to Band-Aids and everything in-between in ads on TV. Whatever happened to the communal effort to give our youth the best chance to be successful in their lives? Do we really feel that they don’t know stuff about sex and aren’t going to go looking around and talking to their peers about it?

Now, I’m not saying that we have nude models in the class or show porn to debate how sex should and shouldn’t happen to a group of middle schoolers. Still, if the parents aren’t as willing to be dynamic and the driving force behind getting the right information about the “birds and the bees” don’t you think our young people won’t continue to “talk amongst themselves” to figure it out?

Abstinence only never works. What works is a mix of encouraging young people to make the right choices and being supportive of WHATEVER their decisions. If all they hear from parents is “DON’T DO IT” as the pearls of wisdom, young people will never listen or take them seriously.

Maybe some parents have their emotional issues tied into sex and it is just hard to separate that from what is needed to tell their teen. That’s ok, but as parents and elders we need to be in touch with whatever are the appropriate resources that are out there. Maybe it is hard to know that your teen is now sexually active. Again, that’s ok too. But just because they’re having sex doesn’t mean their dealing with all the stuff that comes with sexual activity appropriately.

No one wants to be judged when it comes to sex whether in adolescence or adulthood. If we’re so concerned about health professionals promoting sexual activity in schools be teaching sex ed, then maybe we should all live in a society where sex doesn’t sell or isn’t as pervasive. It’s time to go back to the drawing board, and as parents to take the lead on this topic from the homes again in a proactive and positive way, as opposed to having political and educational bureaucracy being the bastions of sexual morality.

10/25/2011

Paradise Lost, Promise Unfulfilled

I was browsing through Facebook today and saw the picture at the end of the entry that got me thinking.

The sad truth is that as humans we’ve got a bad habit at times of trying to hold onto people who we’ve met for a lot longer than they are destined to remain in our lives. As much as we don’t want to admit it, one of the hardest yet most important lessons in life to learn is knowing when and how to let go.

We often hold onto those who are passing through our lives for different reasons. Fueling such a practice can either be love, infatuation, a sense of comfort and safe, or even a longing of “getting back things the way they used to be”.

“Getting back things the way they used to be”. Oh, how that last one can be so tricky. Fool’s gold is still GOLD indeed…RIGHT?

Ever had that friend or that cousin who is ALWAYS been in that “on again, off again” relationship? Messing around with the same person for YEARS, in a cycle of seeming bliss, break up after a huge fight, some separation and then coming back together to try again? Ever had that friend who is always in and out of your life? The same one who has a knack for coming around just when you need them (or they need you)? Notice how they manage to stay long enough to put their mouth and remind you why they’re not always in your life? Oh, those roller coaster relationships…the more we ride in them, the less enjoyable it feels.

Sometimes we just put up with that person for two simple reasons. Either it’s a matter of trying to right a wrong or seizing a missed opportunity. Maybe he was the friend we always took for granted…you know, the one that was cool enough to be around and loved you to death but you never could quite feel anything more for them beyond friendship. Or maybe she was the girl who you hit it off with and in a fleeting moment cheated and broke her heart. You both cross swords and spill guts and exchange hurtful words, but some how find a way to make amends and try to move forward. But as you try again you realize this sinking feeling in the stomach that after a while becomes really hard to ignore:

 It’s just never quite the same, isn’t it?

Still, you fight to keep them in your life. You put up with the flakiness, the lies, and all that baggage because there’s just some powerful connection you share that is just so HARD to let go of, no matter how much hurt and damage it causes or how one-sided things feel. Still, the more you struggle along with the highs and lows of this relationship in your life you’re still left with the same knot it your stomach:

 It’s just not the same is it used to be.

Anyone with true insight who is in recovery from addiction will tell you, it’s all about replicating that FIRST high – the best high they ever had. It didn’t matter HOW much chemicals they ingested, they were never able to replicate that first high. All they are left with is that memory of what it feels like and the urge to be in that moment again. The stark truth is this: it’s a futile pursuit – hunting perfection with the same exuberance as a dog chasing his shadow or his reflection in a puddle of water.

Just as ingesting chemicals never will replicate that first pure euphoric feeling, so can holding onto someone when it’s time to let them go can never replicate those sweet memories or that first time you felt like this was the one to be in your life forever. It’s like throwing a rock through a pane of glass…not matter if you were able to melt and recast that same piece of glass, or to glue all the broken shards back together, it will never restore that pane to its original splendor.

It really is never as good as the first time.

So how do you turn the lights out? When it is a good time to draw a line in the sand or declare quite flatly the party’s over? What are we to take from paradise lost, promise unfulfilled? Maybe it wasn’t our time. Maybe this person was there to merely show us a side of ourselves that needs work. Maybe they were to show us what we’re capable of, a reminder that we can reach the mountain top – even without that person by our side and in our lives. Maybe they aren’t bad people and that you’re not a bad person either. Maybe the lesson is to know how to search for the lessons in life we need to learn in order to be better people.

Life is about learning and what we do with our experiences. Learning how to let go isn’t easy. But the longer we hold onto what we don’t have, perhaps is the more we saddle ourselves with the woes of parade lost, and promises that are unfulfilled.

10/23/2011

Courage on Display

“Courage is simply not one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

10/22/2011

Unity or Minuty

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” MLK (1929-1968)

10/21/2011

The Price of A Good Conscience

“Most people sell their souls, and live with a good conscience on the proceeds.” – Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946)

10/20/2011

Appreciating Youth

“Being young is greatly overestimated…any failure seems so total. Later on you realize you can have another go.” – Mary Quant (1934 – )

10/19/2011

Handling Old Habits

‘Old habits die hard’, but once put to bed they are gone forever. Only their replacements matter.”